Imagine writing without writing words, without writing letters. Somehow getting out your thoughts without a coherent system of letters that can be easily recognized and understood by passers-by. Most people do this kind of writing without intending to just about every time their pens run a bit dry and they want to get them going again. Go to any stationary store and walk over to the pen section and you will find that there are scratch pads that are full of such writing.

This style of writing is known as Asemic writing – asemic being a word that means without semantic context. According to Tim Gaze, creator of a magazine focused on Asemic writing:

[hand]writing does not just contain semantic information. it also contains aesthetic information (when seen as a shape or image) and emotional information (such as a graphologist would analyze.) because it eliminates the semantic information, asemic writing brings the emotional and aesthetic content to the foreground.

On the other hand, e-mail – which has definitely clear semantic information, is clearly lacking something else.

e-mail is writing almost devoid of aesthetic and emotional content, apart from what the words contain.

Try the following experiment. Write in an asemic manner when you experience different sorts of moods. Write when you are angry. Write when you are happy. Write when you are feeling sad.
What can we learn from a sort of writing that doesn’t seem to communicate anything but manages to express a world of emotion? If you can scan in images from your asemic writing, post your best links here!


  1. I’m not sure I understand this, Gordon.
    Is this sort of thing considered art or writing? Is there a common syntax and context? Or is it just made up mumblings of the mind that others try to interpreter for meaning?

  2. My understanding is that it is writing without writing – you get the emotion out while writing but without any semantic information – there was a book that was unearthed once that seemed to be in a foreign language but after years and years of trying to decrypt it some scientists have decided that the language is completely nonexistent.
    So you could say it is closer to art than to writing.

  3. Hi Gordon,
    This is something new! I know about graphology, even one of my friends analyzed my handwriting once and gave me a pretty accurate picture about my personality traits, but I need to try this…

  4. It seems most people unintentionally do it every time their pen runs a bit dry! 🙂

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